China leader Xi Jinping greets Duterte on his birthday
MANILA, Philippines – Hailing the "turnaround" in their countries' ties, Chinese leader Xi Jinping greeted President Rodrigo Duterte ahead of the Philippine leader's 73rd birthday on Wednesday, March 28.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Chinese embassy in Manila said Xi "extends his sincere congratulations and best wishes to President Duterte." The embassy said Xi sent Duterte a "congratulatory letter."
Here's part of Xi's letter as shared by the Chinese embassy:
Over the past year, the China-Philippines relations have experienced a turnaround and are being further consolidated and deepened. Our bilateral relations have enjoyed ongoing betterment and improvement and reaped productive outcomes, which brought tangible benefits to our two peoples and promoted peace and stability of the region.
We have met with each other on quite a few occasions and we reached important consensus on advancing China-Philippines relations and deepening practical cooperation, and set the course for the future growth of our bilateral relations.
I attach great significance to the growth of China-Philippines relations, and stand ready to work with you to carry forward sustained and in-depth growth of China-Philippines relations and bring about more benefits to our countries and peoples.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier visited China to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Cayetano and Wang agreed to pursue joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea "in a prudent and steady way."
The West Philippine Sea is the part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines. China claims that the West Philippine Sea is theirs even if the Philippines won a 2016 ruling in the Hague that upheld its rights over these waters.
Duterte has vowed to move closer to China, and farther from the United States, which he slams for criticizing his war on drugs. This is far cry from the ties between Manila and Beijing under former president Benigno Aquino III, whose administration filed a historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea. – Rappler.com